A comparison of patio surface materials

two circles stonework design with deck

Each patio building material has strengths and weaknesses, but a clear winner usually emerges quickly as we work with a client on their design. Here is a primer of the options:

Concrete pavers

It's no surprise that most of our clients end up choosing concrete pavers. With proper installation, it's hard to go wrong: They look great and are very practical.

  • Originally developed in Germany, the concrete paver system was designed to adapt to the change of seasons, frost movement and fluctuations in soil moisture content. Ideal for our Winnipeg climate.
  • Proper base prep minimizes and controls the movement of stonework, but acknowledges that movement cannot be eliminated.
  • Can be used in any application: backyard patios to driveways to roadways with heavy traffic. If installed right, concrete brick surfaces are extremely heavy duty.
  • Paver patios can be repaired, altered and expanded without any evidence of these changes (unlike poured concrete surfaces).
  • Bricks come in a wide range of colours and patterns
  • Moderately priced

Poured concrete

Poured concrete is just what you imagine and have seen the City of Winnipeg using on the majority of sidewalks. On patios, you'll also sometimes see stamped concrete, which is poured concrete that has been textured or embossed with a pattern, sometimes to mimic brick or tile.

But, there is a saying in the business: "There are two types of concrete: concrete that is cracked and concrete that is going to crack". So, here at Earthworks we don't deal with poured concrete at all. We have a 5-year guarantee on our hardscaped surfaces and concrete doesn't make the cut!

Winnipeg soil expands and contracts with changes in moisture content -- anything built on top will move seasonally. A large slab is guaranteed to crack over time.

Pros:

  • Smooth surface, initially
  • Can be installed quickly
  • Relatively inexpensive. Although colored and stamped concrete is close in price to concrete pavers.

Cons:

  • Plain concrete can be a bit drab.
  • Expensive to repair
  • Repairs are always visible
  • If you want to alter or expand your patio in the future, the expansion will likely be visible too. It's challenging to make the old area and new area look cohesive.
  • Cracks! (The deal breaker)

Natural stone

The varied color and texture of natural stone can look incredible.

Limestone

Local Manitoba limestone is a unique product we have right here in the province. For the same reason wine connoisseurs love to taste the distinct qualities of the environment grapes were grown in (the "terrior" of the grape), Manitoba stone on a Manitoba patio is a very stylish choice. Limestone has been used in some of the most iconic buildings and locations in Winnipeg.

  • It's an affordable option for Winnipeggers, comparable in price to concrete pavers.
  • Very light-colored stone, loaded with fossils from marine plants and animals from the ancient Lake Agassiz.
  • Proper base preparation is very important with limestone. It is a relatively soft stone that can crack if it isn't installed with care.

Slate flagstone

Though certainly not the cheapest option, Slate can be absolutely striking.

  • Many color options (ex. red, brown, blue, grey, black).
  • The surface texture makes for great visual interest -- it can look truly amazing. But that same textured quality does make installation more complex.
  • It is more expensive than other materials.

Most natural stone options work great on patios but not so well for driveways. Natural stone often won't stand up to the weight of vehicles.

Whichever surface option you choose, Earthworks has a 5-year guarantee on all stonework. It'll be done right the first time. No hassles.


We love talking about this stuff, so give Dwayne a call, text or email with any questions!

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Winnipeg, Manitoba

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